The Guardian • Issue #1974

The Pentecostal fantasy

My first introduction to Pentecostalism was when one of my cousins joined a Pentecostal church in Tully back in the late ’seventies when barcodes first made their appearance on everyday goods. She referred to them as the mark of the beast, that soon we would all have barcodes tattooed on us in order to buy and sell goods. I was just a teenager at the time and found the whole experience quite disturbing, thinking she was off her rocker and had gone mad. Later conversations about the rapture, being born again, and speaking in tongues confirmed my belief that she had some sheep loose in the top paddock.

It wasn’t long before other family members became drawn to this strange new religion, and purely out of curiosity I went along to a meeting to see what all the hype was about. Pentecostal church services have a supernatural feel to them and can be quite intoxicating. They can seem quite magical, and it wasn’t long before I was drawn in myself. I wanted to know all about my new religion, and after some intense bible study I decided that I would like to become a pastor. I volunteered to do some lay preaching, and my fire and brimstone approach quickly gained me recognition from the church hierarchy; scaring people into doctrinal submission became my trademark preaching style.

Never being one to accept everything I was told, I studied the Bible for myself and did some historical research. Already a fervent socialist after reading a book on the Russian Revolution given to me by a union representative at work, embracing communism as the solution to the inherent inequality in the capitalist system, the more I read the more my political and religious beliefs started to clash. The Pentecostal church held several beliefs that I simply could not reconcile with my view that Jesus was a socialist, but what I finally balked at were two of their doctrines that were blatantly at odds with what was written in the Bible. They believed that in order to be saved, one had to be born again or else you get sent to hell – this never made sense to me. I couldn’t understand why people in remote areas that never heard the message deserved to go to hell. The other belief was their prosperity doctrine that decreed that good Christians (i.e. members of the Pentecostal movement) who gave generously to the church would be rewarded with worldly wealth and prosperity. Furthermore, this belief extended to the idea that poor people deserved to be poor because God was punishing them for failing to give their lives to him. I was never able to reconcile this belief as I couldn’t see how it was fair to punish people born into poor families and situations.

These beliefs were at odds with what was written in the gospels. I quickly became disenchanted with the whole Pentecostal movement and gradually extricated myself from its clutches. Over time, I studied the religion more objectively, realising they were nothing more than a cult, a capitalist corporate, fascist cult devoid of any sense of humanity and empathy. Now, an avid member of this cult is running our country, so why should we be worried?

We should be worried because, for these people, Pentecostalism isn’t just a religion; it’s a way of life. It permeates everything they do and everything they believe in, including politics and controlling other people’s lives. This includes changing laws and policies to suit their beliefs. They do not believe in the separation of church and state but rather see political power as a means to an end.

So what are their main beliefs we should be concerned with?

Prosperity: they believe that God rewards the true believers with worldly riches and punishes the unbelievers with poverty. This is why they have no sense of charity and do nothing to help the poor or less fortunate.

Armageddon and the end times: they believe that in the near future there will be a final showdown between good and evil in the Middle East. This location is called the valley of Megiddo, located in the north of Israel, named in the last book of the Bible (Revelations). This final showdown will be preceded by plagues, pestilence, and mass starvation. Before this, an event known as The Rapture will occur whereby all the true believers will be taken up into heaven, while the unbelievers will be left on the Earth to suffer. During this time, the Earth will be destroyed and recreated by God. This is why they don’t care about climate change, as they believe it is all part of God’s plan.

Anti-gay: they believe that anything besides being heterosexual is an abomination before God and worthy of hellfire, this is reflected in the laws they introduce to oppress LGBTQ communities particularly in the US.

Anti-abortion: they are against abortion in any form and for any reason, including rape and paedophilia. This is also reflected in the laws they promote.

Pro-war/Anti-refugee: they are very pro-war, particularly with countries whose dominant religion is something other than Christianity such as Islam. Thus, they push for war in the Middle East and Afghanistan while at the same time being against the resettlement of refugees in their country.

Pro-Israel /Zionism: they believe the Jews are God’s chosen people, and as such, they believe that the Zionists are entitled to do whatever they want to other races, including the genocide of Palestinians.

Even a cursory glance at their beliefs reveals that they are fervent fascists and anti-socialist. Our prime minister, along with about fifteen other government MPs are fervent members of this cult. They have a lot of influence over government decisions, and this is being reflected in policy. In short, they are leading us down the Pentecostal path to their version of utopia, and we should be worried.

This is not an attack on Christians. There are many good charitable works carried out by Christian organisations and individuals. However, Pentecostalism has little in common with the true meaning of Christianity.

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